Standards of review are critical to appellate review because they set limitations upon the appellate court's review process. In doing so, standards of review balance judicial authority, make judicial review more efficient, standardize the review process, and give notice to parties who wish to appeal their cases. However, these policies and their effects are diminished when appellate judges misuse or ignore standards of review.
This article examines the theories that led to the creation of standards of review and identifies four ways that appellate courts misuse standards of review. It analyzes over 8,000 cases from Texas and California, along with opinions and law journal articles from countless other jurisdictions to prove the author's theory that standards of review are often ignored or manipulated by appellate courts who seek to overturn the lower court's decision.